Cancer drugs to get cheaper : The Tribune India

Cancer drugs to get cheaper

Diabetes, de-addiction medicines to cost less too | Cancer fear, Ranitidine off essential list

Cancer drugs to get cheaper

Tribune News Service

Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, September 13

Four key anti-cancer drugs and four patented antivirals used in the treatment of tuberculosis, HIV and chronic Hepatitis C will get cheaper with their inclusion in the National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM), 2022, published on Tuesday. The list features 384 medicines against 376 in the 2015 NLEM.

Cancer fear, Ranitidine off essential list

  • India on Tuesday dropped Ranitidine, popularly sold as Zantac, from the NLEM, 2022, over cancer concerns
  • There have been concerns that Zantac and other Ranitidine products contaminated with high levels of N-Nitrosodimethylamine can cause cancer

4 New Anti-cancer drugs added

  • Bendamustine injection: Used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (cancer of WBCs)
  • Irinotecan trihydrate solution: An anti-cancer medication used in the treatment of patients with metastatic adenocarcinoma of the pancreas
  • Lenalidomide capsule: Used to treat several cancers, including bone marrow
  • Leuprolide acetate (powder for injection): Used to treat prostate cancer, problems with the endometrium & uterine fibroids

It adds 34 medicines over the previous list and deletes 26. The deleted medicines include Ranitidine (popular as Zantac), which has been flagged by the US FDA for cancer concerns.

The 34 new medicines in the 2022 NLEM feature four anti-cancer drugs so far in the non-scheduled category and hence not under price ceiling. These include injections, tablets and chemotherapy formulations used in the treatment of cancers of white blood cells, pancreas, prostate and bone marrow. With these additions, the 2022 NLEM lists 63 anti-cancer medicines enabling their price control and affordability. For the first time, the 2022 NLEM also includes four patented drugs, which too will get cheaper once the National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority (NPPA) fixes a ceiling price for all 384 medicines listed as essential.

NLEM drugs cannot be sold above the NPPA ceiling prices. All other medicines are allowed a maximum yearly price increase of 10%. The patented antivirals in the 2022 NLEM are anti-TB drugs Bedaquiline and Delamanid; anti-HIV Dolutegravir and anti-Hepatitis C Daclatasvir.

The new drugs under the NLEM also include the anti-diabetic insulin Glargine injection, de-addiction formulations Buprenorphine tablet and nicotine-replacement therapy; the cardiovascular drug tablet Dabigatran and injection Tenecteplase and the indigenous Rotavirus vaccine.

AIIMS, Bhopal, president YK Gupta, who was vice-chairman of the standing committee on essential medicines that formulated the 2022 NLEM, said no Covid drug had yet been included in the list as all these drugs had been approved for emergency use.


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